Norwegians, reeling at the death of at least 93 adults and children in Friday’s mass shootings and bombing attack, are being forced to confront the fact that the perpetrator is not a lone madman, but a highly organized Norwegian political terrorist who claims to be part of a Europe-wide movement opposed to Muslim immigrants and multiculturalism.
The confessed killer, 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, released a 1,500-page manifesto moments before his terror spree and made statements through his lawyer while being interrogated on the weekend that suggest he intends to use his atrocity as a platform to espouse a type of anti-immigrant politics that has become increasingly popular in Europe.
The revelations come as a blow to European police and intelligence officials, who now appear to face two parallel terror threats, one Islamic and one anti-Islamic, which share xenophobic beliefs, violent tactics and even inspirational leaders, and differ only in their targets.Anyone who comes from a small town where resistance to the "outside" world runs deep and long knows something about a kind of political activism that projects its worst fears onto the enemy, as it sees that enemy to be.
What is now changed is that political activism has grown new courage, new strategies and new tactics, along with a boldness and a narcissism that "heroically" seeks publicity as one of its new strategies.
Of course, Breivik seeks an open, probably televised court hearing today. He wants the world to listen to his manifesto. Of course, he is a hero to his like-minded, radical, racist 'movement' across Europe.
Fear of being submerged, subsumed in a world generally formed by judeo-christian values, laws and traditions motivates the Islamic terrorist and jihadist; fear of the take-over and domination by those jihadists drives the people like Breivik.
And the rest of us are left watching a conflict whose outcomes we can only imagine.
The world is experiencing the collision of people with cultural and religious traditions that are very different. Thousands of litres of alcoholic beverages are openly thrown into a pit when the Islamic Taliban find them after the forces of the "west" leave. Women, in the Islamic tradition, are treated very differently from their treatment in the "west." The U.S. and much of the "west" supports, aids and defends the state and people of Israel; much of the Islamic movement would wish the state of Israel 'wiped off the map' as has been stated, even demanded, by some Islamic fundamentalists.
These are incompatible positions requiring both intense diplomatic efforts to bring them into some kind of safe and secure detente, and the hard power that support the military will have to become less the 'instrument of choice' for political leaders, just as an arsenal of weaponry will have to be restrained by the "terrorists" on both sides.
When we consider, for even a brief moment, the scene in which a white Christian, fundamentalist dressed as a policeman to convey a phoney and deceptive message of safety and security plans and executes the deaths of nearly 90 innocent young people at a camp on an island 35 kilometers off the shore of Oslo because their parents are members of the Labour Party in Norway, after he has just bombed the building housing the offices of the prime minister, also a Labour Party member, we can see just how expensive is membership in that political party. We can also see the lengths to which a deranged individual will go to make a political statement. And the office building is on the same street as the offices of the Nobel Peace Prize, ironic, given Norway's commitment to the pursuit of peace in all theatres and in all the means available to attain that worthy goal.
There is a kind of "religious righteousness" that drives someone like Breivik that seeks to purify his country's culture, without recognizing the gifts of both immigration and diversity. His religious convictions, like those of the Islamic jihadists, are completely misguided, dangerous and therefore must be considered evil, regardless of the outcome of the intervention of law enforcement, courts, judges and prisons. The Islamic jihadists are moving against what they see as the evil forces of capitalism, consumerism, feminism, loose morality and those infidels who have not converted to the worship of Allah. It is a kind of religious righteousness that drives those terrorists also.
However, one band of terrorists must not be permitted to generate an opposing band of terrorists, because the fallout from such a conflict is far too horrendous even to contemplate.
This space will continue to be devoted to the cause of dampening down the virulence, the violence and the toxicity of extreme positions on both sides, because both exhibit the dangers of excessive and misdirected fear, anxiety and neurosis.
Anyone who has been subjected to any form of violence knows intimately:
- that it will not achieve the ends for which it is deployed,
- that it will continue to bring down those committed to its deployment,
- that the victims will only be enraged and more seriously committed to raising the stakes in their own pursuit of violence and
- that ultimately everyone, collateral damage as the military language likes to call it, suffers tragically, needlessly and eternally.